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Don't take anger out on messenger

Dear Carolyn: A friend told me she "suspected" my boyfriend was cheating, I insisted he wasn't and that she was being spiteful, and a week later it turned out she was right. Now I know I need to apologize to her, but part of me is annoyed she didn't just say initially that she was sure about it. Is that expecting too much?

-- Eating crow

A: You just got awful news, I'm sorry. But don't take that out on the messenger. You don't need to agree with her approach to recognize her intentions: to plant a seed and hope you'd take it from there. Conflicting impulses, to protect friends and avoid meddling, are common.

So eat your crow straight up, unseasoned by face-saving "But you shoulda " accusations.

In fact, since you reflexively attacked her character, your work isn't finished with the (profuse) apology. Also ask yourself whether you're quick to find fault in others but slow to do so in yourself. There could be value in this disaster if it unearths a bad hubris habit -- especially since it's easy to fix, if initially hard to admit.

> Give it up, girl

Dear Carolyn: I started liking this guy during my freshman year of college. We had some romantic involvement, but things were always rocky because neither of us wanted to date, due to the fact that we both fulfilled that stereotype of college kids, constantly partying, hooking up with random people, etc.

During this period, I slept with someone in his frat -- he went to my high school and I'd had a crush on him since I was a freshman in high school.

Later in the year, the first boy and I began to date. We've been dating for about three months now, but there's one huge problem: After a week of dating, he found out about his frat brother. He's been upset ever since and tells me he still loses sleep over it. We've talked about it countless times, and he tells me that if he can't get over it, we will have to break up. I like this guy so much, and I desperately want to get past this. What can I do?

-- Clueless in College

A: Put this union out of its misery, and break up with him. As follows (thematically, not verbatim, of course): "We both came to each other through other people. I am not just grudgingly OK with that -- I'm glad you turned out the way you did and accept how you got there. I hope someday you can do the same for me, but until you can, I can't date you. I'm sorry."

You've talked "countless times," but the second conversation, maybe third, was the perfect time to remind him there's nothing more to be said. How many months are you ready to burn, trying to undo what can't be undone?

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